Markets: FTSE records best week in six months

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Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index enjoyed its best week in six months despite slim gains yesterday, led higher by banks although Chinese growth worries hit mining stocks.

The Footsie edged up 1.53 points to close at 6,544.94, some 2.7 per cent higher on the week. That represented its biggest weekly gain since January, and left the index 2.6 per cent off a 13-year closing high hit in May.

The London market opened strongly after the S&P 500 and Dow Jones hit record closing highs in New York on Thursday night, but pared some gains as worries about Portugal’s bailout drove bond yields higher.

IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said: “The FTSE 100 has been unable to make up its mind today, moving higher in the direction of 6,600 and then backing off.

“We could see some weakness in the near term, particularly if Chinese GDP disappoints.”

Security giants G4S and Serco suffered further share falls in the wake of Thursday’s damning revelation that the firms had overcharged the UK government by tens of millions for electronic tagging schemes.

Serco fell 1 per cent to 620.5p and G4S, which is facing a criminal investigation after being reported by the government to the Serious Fraud Office, slipped a further 1.6 per cent to 209.5p.

Reckitt Benckiser was the biggest top-flight faller, down 5.1 per cent or 252p to 4,677p after a downbeat broker note from Nomura International.

But an upgrade from Nomura ensured better fortunes for insurer Resolution, which leapt 3.4 per cent or 10.5p to 318.5p.

Supermarkets were also buoyed as Waitrose reported its best sales performance outside Christmas and Easter last week. Sainsbury’s rose 7.5p to 382.8p while Morrisons was 2.5p ahead at 283p.

NEW YORK: US stocks edged higher last night on strong earnings from major banks, but gains were capped by losses at Boeing, which fell after one of its Dreamliner planes caught fire in London.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.38 points, or 0.01 per cent, to close at 15,462.30 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended up 5.03 points, or 0.30 per cent, at 1,680.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 21.78 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 3,600.08.